The Lovers And The Despot

‘The Lovers and the Despot’ (2016) Official Trailer

After their glamorous romance ends, a famous director and actress are kidnapped by movie-obsessed dictator Kim Jong-il. Forced to play along with a bizarre f…


?A coolly gripping account of one of the most bizarre true-crime stories ever to emerge from the film world? ESSENTIAL STRANGER-THAN-FICTION VIEWING.?

?- Justin Chang, Variety


?Perhaps THE ALL-TIME STRANGEST, MOST OUTLANDISH TRUE-LIFE STORY CONNECTED TO THE CINEMA. Wonderfully illustrated, alluring and informative.?

? Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter


?A JAW-DROPPING TALE. Vibrant cinema.?
? David D?Arcy, Screen




Sundance Film Festival World Documentary Selection 2016

Berlin International Film Festival Panorama Selection 2016


?as both an utterly mad true story and as a document of the boundless reach of the cinema across borders and cultures and even ideologies, THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT is WILD, VALUABLE VIEWING FOR ALL.?

  • Dominick Suzanne-Mayer, Consequence of Sound




TORONTO, August 24, 2016 ? Unobstructed View Inc. (formerly Video Services Corp.) is pleased to announce today that they are bringing the stranger-than-fiction documentary thriller THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT to screens across Canada and on iTunes on September 30th, 2016. The film will open in Toronto at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and Ottawa?s ByTowne Cinema, before expanding to other select cities in October.

The release follows the film?s successful premieres at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals, where audiences and critics alike thrilled at the incredible story and lauded the filmmakers? rendering of this truly fantastical tale, that if not true, would simply be unbelievable.

THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT tells the story of young, ambitious South Korean filmmaker Shin Sang-ok and actress Choi Eun-hee who met and fell in love in 1950s post-war Korea. In the 70s, after reaching the top of Korean society following a string of successful films, Choi was kidnapped in Hong Kong by North Korean agents and taken to meet Kim Jong-il. While searching for Choi, Shin also was kidnapped. Following five years of imprisonment, the couple was reunited in North Korea by the movie-obsessed Kim, who declared them his personal filmmakers. Choi and Shin planned their escape but not before producing 17 feature films for the dictator and gaining his trust in the process.

Particularly notable in the film is the use of a rare audio archive of recordings that Shin and Choi secretly and courageously taped when they were in Kim?s presence, affording the first opportunity for those outside North Korea to hear the dictator?s voice.


?We can?t remember exactly when we first heard this story,? the filmmakers say. ?For a long time it seemed to reside in our imaginations as a possibly apocryphal tale concocted by a career fabulist. It seemed far too outlandish to be true – a director and an actress kidnapped by a brutal dictator to improve his films. Many directors and actors have led fascinating lives and had passionate love affairs, but none have experienced such a thrilling melodrama as Choi and Shin. As a film about filmmakers caught up in a narrative beyond their own making, it had particular appeal for us – as storytellers – in the possibilities of its telling.?


THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT is co-directed by Robert Cannan and Ross Adam. Cannan previously directed the critically acclaimed documentary THREE MILES NORTH OF MOLKOM, which won an audience award and was nominated for Best Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards.? Ross Adam previously collaborated with Cannan on many short-form projects and has worked as a director, cameraman and editor in short film and music video. THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT is their first feature length collaboration.


THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT is a BFI, Creative England and BBC presentation, in association with the Documentary Co., Influence Film, ZDF/Arte, SVT and Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, in co-production with NTR, Pumpernickel Films and Submarine, of a Hellflower and Tigerlily production. Produced by Robert Cannan, Ross Adam, Natasha Dack Ojumu. Executive producers, Lizzie Francke, Richard Holmes, Nick Fraser, Kate Townsend, Sheryl Crown, Maggie Monteith, Victoria Steventon, Cristina Ljungberg, Sandra Whipham. Christoph Jorg, Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix.


For more information, to request screeners and stills, or to request interviews with directors Robert Cannan and Ross Adam, please contact:


Suzanne Cheriton, RedEye Media, [email protected], 416-805-6744

Jenn Perras, RedEye Media, [email protected], 416-525-7625


About Unobstructed View Inc.

Unobstructed View Inc. (previously known as Video Services Corp.) is a full-service distributor with direct relationships and a commitment to tailor distribution strategies across all platforms, from theatrical release to home video, VOD, and television. Owned by former rock critic Jonathan Gross, Unobstructed View owns a catalog of hundreds of film and TV titles and has ongoing distribution agreements with Magnolia Pictures, Film Movement, Kino Lorber and Synapse, just to name a few. Upcoming film and TV releases include Hot Docs Selection Tickled, TIFF selection Sunset Song, Sundance selection The Eyes of My Mother and Canadian films No Men Beyond This Point and First Round Down.



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